IF THE conditional cash transfer (CCT) that is not coupled with jobs generation, the flagship “antipoverty” program of the Aquino government, could breed dependency and mendicancy among the poor, the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of politicians, on the other hand, has institutionalized corruption and political patronage.
The Alliance of Progressive Labor, in fact, believes that these two major state funding sources – that would supposedly address the perennial problems of widespread poverty and lack of basic services in the grassroots – actually abet in prolonging the vicious cycle of hardship and vulnerability of the majority.
In particular, the APL is one with the call for the abolition of pork barrel as it is a corrupt and corrupting practice, a “virus” that “infects” not only politicians from the legislative and the executive, but also employees in the implementing government agencies, as well as officials of local government units (LGUs), contractors, businessmen and ordinary people.
PDAF’s “hard” or public works projects have become ready and lucrative sources of corruption, while “soft” programs like medical and educational assistance have been used to instill allegiance or political patronage between the pork barrel “providers” and their “beneficiaries” or the politicians and their constituents.
Aside from blind loyalty that PDAF generates, huge amounts of pork barrel diverted or pocketed also ensure a generous supply of funds to finance the next election bid of a politician.
Worse, instigated by sheer greed and callousness, the PDAF virus has tarnished the image and reputation of civil society organizations (CSOs) by concocting fake non-government organizations (NGOs) and people’s organizations (POs) as “recipients” of pork barrels.
The recent exposé on the pork barrel scam is but a tip of the iceberg of the rampant fraud in the use of PDAF, which would make Janet Lim-Napoles’ alleged plunder of P10-billion a mere pittance. It has barely scratched the surface of the racket called PDAF.
Hence, simultaneous with the scrapping of pork barrel, investigation on the PDAF rip-off should be pursued relentlessly at all costs and not to become again simply a ningas cogon – routinary probes that fizzle out when the issue dies down, and where the guilty usually remains scot-free.
A “citizens’ audit” to scrutinize the scope and magnitude of this anomaly should in fact be convened and provided sufficient powers and resources, which would primarily be composed of representatives from genuine and reputable POs and NGOs, and which would work hand in hand with the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice.